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Old 12-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #1
Newborn Pup
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 26
Default Nipping becoming worse

Hello there!

I have had Dmitri, my hybrid dwarf, since the beginning of November (just over a month) and he has a tendency to nip. At first it was light and now there is much more pressure applied in the past week or so. I am not sure what is the cause of this. Some days he will crawl into my hand from his cage with no problem. Other days he will be very nippy.

Firstly, I have moved him to a Hamster Heaven cage. Originally he was in the Savic Bristol. I swapped it almost a week ago, as I felt perhaps it was attributing towards his nippiness (cage rage).The nipping has reduced to an extent, however he will sometimes still rush towards me, give a nip or try to grab me if I rustle his bedding.

Secondly I wash my hands in either washing up liquid or pure water to try and remove the scent from my hands. So I am not sure if this is attributing to his nipping.

Any ideas what this is?
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:43 PM   #2
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Posts: 133
Default Re: Nipping becoming worse

I don’t know why he does it, it might be a territorial thing.

It might be worth it to try and train it out of him. Have a bowl of sunflower seeds on hand, or another small treat he likes, and present your flat hand. If he doesn’t nip, say *good boy* and immediately hand him a sunflower seed in between your fingers of the other hand (the reward has to be immediate so be ready in advance).

Repeat that a few times a day. If he nips, no treat and don’t say anything. Just go away and come try a while later. If he succeeds, don’t overdo it and set him to fail. Just stop for now.

I think it might work. Just make sure he doesn’t eat too many sunflower seeds, they’re fat. Use the smaller ones and find something else he likes.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:27 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: UK
Posts: 402
Default Re: Nipping becoming worse

Moving cage is the same as changing home so he may need more time to settle in again like you did when you got him.

If he's in bed when you rustle the bedding it may be that you startled him or woke him up. How do you pick him up? If grabbing from above it mimics a predator and he'll bite to defend himself. If you trap him in a corner he'll bite because he can't run away.

Positive reinforcement is key. Find something he likes like sunflower seeds as Dessi mentioned. What I did with my ham was I put some of his mix in my hand and lie my hand flat in the bottom of the cage. He'll want that food eventually and keeps his mouth busy so he can't bite you. Do this a couple of times a day (small amounts of food so you don't overfeed him). Then put less and less on your hand and leave your empty hand in there. May nibble some crumbs off but shouldn't be painful.

If he lunges it's aggression. If this continues its probably best to leave him be and handle him on his terms. He may not like to be handled and rather be left to hamster
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:12 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bath, UK
Posts: 3,519
Default Re: Nipping becoming worse

Every hamster is going to be different so if one technique doesn't work, there'll often be a different approach you can try.

The first thing to do is to work out why he's nipping. If he is territorial then sometimes this can be overcome by changing the cage but on other occasions a hamster will always be territorial in their own cage so you may need to look at interacting with your hamster outside of his cage. You can always use a mug or a toilet roll tube to get him out of his cage to transfer him to a more neutral space. It may just be that he's nipping as he's just woken up and needs time to be ready to play.

It could be that he's learnt to expect treats every time you hold him and nibbles in expectation that there's going to be something edible there waiting for him. I had a young Chinese who had got into a habit of nibbling me every time I held him so I literally had to stop giving him any treats directly from my hands or fingers. If he nipped, I just ignored it and eventually he seemed to realise that it would not only get no reaction from me but also that he wasn't going to get any treats whilst he was sat on my hands. Instead, I would always drop his seeds on to his hammock from the roof of his cage... as well as stopping the nipping, he also learnt to go up to his hammock and wait for his post-playtime treats.
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Old 12-11-2019, 01:33 PM   #5
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Posts: 26
Default Re: Nipping becoming worse

Thank you for your input everyone. The nipping does seem more frequent when he’s just woken up (he wakes up a few hours to eat, run on his wheel for 5 mins and go back to sleep), or inside his cage (or in close proximity). So I’m starting to believe it’s he’s a bit cage aggressive and moody at times. However he hasn’t been very active the past few days. I’m not sure if this is related to having new hamsters introduced to the room or if he’s possibly ill. I will be watching him closely.
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